WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- "Safeguarding environmental values is
essential," Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial
Equality, told journalists and others attending an Earth Day discussion today
at the National Press Club. "But we must stop trying to protect our planet
from every imaginable, exaggerated or imaginary risk. And we must stop trying
to protect it on the backs, and the graves, of the nation's and world's most
powerless and impoverished people."
Innis led off a stimulating and informative briefing about the negative
implications of "eco-imperialism" -- policies that seek to protect the
environment, but deny impoverished people the chance for better lives and the
ability to rid their countries of diseases that were vanquished long ago in
the United States and Europe. "We intend to make this Earth Day a clarion call
for human rights and more responsible environmentalism," he said.
Dr. CS Prakash, professor of plant genetics at Tuskegee Institute and a
native of Bangalore, India agreed. "We need to put humanity back into the
environmental picture," he said, "and promote policies that demonstrate as
much concern about people, as about the environment." All over the world,
nations are trying to emerge from poverty, he pointed out, by generating more
electrical energy, increasing their agricultural output, and eradicating the
diseases that have plagued them for centuries.
However, they are often prevented from doing so by developed countries and
activist groups that claim such activities might impact wildlife and
Environmental pressure groups, wealthy foundations and even the United
Nations and World Health Organization oppose the use of DDT and other
pesticides to control malaria. This killer disease afflicts 300 million people
every year, and kills 2 million -- mostly women and children, and mostly in
sub-Saharan Africa -- leaving this region one of the most destitute on Earth.
These activists deprive poor countries of electricity, denying them lights,
refrigeration, better jobs, and modern schools, clinics and hospitals. As a
result, millions more die from tuberculosis, dysentery and other diseases.
Opposition to biotechnology perpetuates malnutrition, prevents Third World
farmers from replacing crops that have been devastated by disease and drought,
and results in extensive erosion and habitat loss.
DDT's critical role was conclusively demonstrated by South Africa, which
reintroduced the chemical in 2000 -- and slashed malaria disease and death
rates by over 90 percent in just three years, noted American Enterprise
Institute fellow Dr. Roger Bate. "DDT has never harmed a single human being,"
he emphasized, "and any damage to wildlife occurred when massive amounts were
employed in farming, not when small doses were employed for disease control."
"The world's poor don't need sustainable development. They need sustained
development, so that they can take their rightful places among the Earth's
prosperous people," argued Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green
Power - Black Death. "They don't need a precautionary principle that protects
healthy, affluent Americans and Europeans from global warming or trace
chemicals. They need a one that safeguards them from the real, immediate,
life-threatening risks that confront them every day."
"Eco-imperialism is clearly a pervasive problem in the United States,
too," Project 21's John Meredith emphasized. "It imposes policies that drive
up housing prices, prevent the cleanup of polluted brownfields, stifle job
creation in minority neighborhoods, and keep poor people impoverished. The
policies promote a narrow political agenda, and fail to give the poor a voice
in these decisions."
These activists practice "eco-segregation," added Norris McDonald,
President of the African American Environmentalist Association. "Ninety
percent of elitist environmental groups do not hire African Americans in
professional policy positions, and they promote numerous policies that are
detrimental to the African American community."
"Ineffective actions taken to prevent climate change will significantly
increase energy prices for poor Americans and Europeans, making it even more
difficult for many to afford heating and air conditioning," noted Dr. Sallie
Baliunas, astrophysicist and TechCentralStation.com science host. "Unfounded
fears about global warming are also used to justify policies that prevent poor
Africans, Indians, Asians and Peruvians from using fossil fuels to generate
electricity, thus forcing them to keep using wood and animal dung for fuel."
While these experts met with the press in Washington, Greenpeace co-
founder and coalition member Dr. Patrick Moore promoted his message of
"sensible environmentalism" in New York City's Central Park. "I helped start
the environmental movement to protect people, as well as our planet," he said.
"Unfortunately, too many policies today ignore the needs of the Earth's
poorest people. That's not just unnecessary. It's eco-imperialism. It's
counter-productive, and morally wrong."
Following their Press Club event, the panelists also briefed congressional
staffers. In both venues, they underscored the need to hold environmental
pressure groups to the same standards of honesty, integrity, transparency and
accountability that we demand for for-profit corporations and their officers.
"No one should be above the law, or free to ignore basic ethical principles,"
Driessen and Meredith agreed.
Basic standards of ethics, corporate social responsibility and
environmental justice require that we no longer ignore the "horrendous toll"
exacted on poor people by these well-intended but ill-considered policies, the
policy experts emphasized.
"If people of conscience join us, we will challenge and end this scourge
of eco-imperialism," Innis concluded, "and ensure that Dr. Martin Luther
King's dream will become a reality for poor people throughout the United
States and world."
SOURCE Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death